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Judges Banning Cameraphones in Court to Protect Witnesses



The convenience of always having a camera with you also comes with some serious liabilities, especially if someone’s well-being depends on anonymity. This is probably why more and more judges are banning cameraphones from their courtrooms.

According to the The Boston Globe, the practice has particularly caught on in Massachusetts, where reports of witnesses, prosecutors and even jurors being photographed outside court — with photos often winding up on social media as part of intimidation campaigns — have judges worried about fair trials.

Like most states, Massachusetts bans covert photography in court, but the difficulty of enforcing such rules in an age where a camera is embedded in almost every phone has prompted many judges to ban cell phones altogether.


“It’s about keeping cases fair,” Douglas Sheff, incoming president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, told the Globe. “It’s about keeping justice intact. This is a very real problem.”

Besides aiding justice, such blanket bans have provided an unexpected boon for several industries. Phone companies are getting requests to install more pay phones (ask your grandparents, kids) in courtrooms, and enterprising owners of Bodegas near courthouses have found they can charge a couple of bucks to safely stow a customer’s phone while they’re in court.

(via Boston Globe)

Image credits: Presiding Judge Miles Ehrlich by maveric2003 and Ooh, breaking da’ rules! by cybertoad